Remembering James E. Cruise, former director and CEO of the ROM

From the second five-year-old James Cruise planted his first tree at his household’s farm in Marburg, Ont., he turned enthusiastic about vegetation.

That farm – and people vegetation – turned a working thread all through Cruise’s life. He went on to develop into a professor of botany and a dean on the College of Toronto, after which CEO of the Royal Ontario Museum, the place he as soon as gave a private tour to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Regardless of his achievements, the Cruise remained – like his subject of examine – right down to earth, by no means straying removed from his Marburg farm.

Born in Port Dover, Cruise was the third of 4 kids of farmer William Edward Cruise and Annie Gertrude (Walker) Cruise. Together with siblings Eleanor, Isabel and George, he obtained his early schooling within the one-room rural faculty at Marburg.

In 1943, on the age of 18, Cruise entered the Royal Canadian Air Power the place he educated as a navigator. He obtained a Dominion Skyways Proficiency Award, ending first in his class upon commencement, and went on to show navigation to air crew trainees. Victory in Europe Day had been celebrated by the point he reached England in 1945, so he by no means noticed lively responsibility, however he did spend a while in Europe earlier than being discharged with the rank of Flying Officer in March 1946.

Understanding that he needed to work in a occupation that may permit him to stay on the farm, Cruise entered an honours biology program by way of Victoria Faculty at U of T in 1946. After graduating, he earned a grasp’s in plant physiology and a PhD in plant taxonomy at Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. He taught there, at Princeton and one other New Jersey college, spending 13 years in the US earlier than returning to U of T in 1963 as an affiliate professor of botany, and later as affiliate dean of the College of Arts & Science. Throughout this time at his alma mater, he additionally served as a dean of males.

In 1975, Cruise was appointed because the ninth director and CEO of the ROM. Throughout his 10-year tenure, he oversaw a $55 million growth, which included the addition of the Queen Elizabeth II Terrace Galleries on the north aspect and a curatorial centre on the south, and he gained a Governor Common’s Medal in Structure. It was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip throughout their 1984 Royal Go to. The College of Guelph awarded Cruise an honorary physician of legal guidelines and letters in 1982, and in 1997, he obtained the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal.

For greater than 22 years, Cruise cut up his time between Toronto and Marburg. After retiring from the ROM in 1985, he moved full time to Marburg, which he was a “horticultural showplace,” says his niece, Joan Smith. “He genuinely loved main a bunch by way of the grounds. As a collector of oddities, his houses (at Marburg and later, on Freeway 6) have been additionally crammed with vintage items and curiosities.” For a few years, Cruise hosted church and household picnics, horticultural excursions, in addition to different guests who got here to marvel at his gardens. “Native bus drivers knew the right way to navigate the turns within the driveway at Marburg,” Joan says.

He was drawn to uncommon and unique animals as properly. At varied occasions, the farm was residence to llamas, piglets, peacocks, guinea fowl, English Fallow deer, swans, pheasants, fancy roosters and a Siberian goose.

Cruise served on the board of administrators for the Lighthouse Pageant Theatre and for a number of phrases chaired the Dover Mills Heritage Affiliation. He additionally served on the boards of the Norfolk Historic Society, the Port Dover & Woodhouse Horticultural Society and the Grace United Church (the place he had gifted a Heintzman grand piano that was performed throughout his funeral service years later), and he was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion in Port Dover. For his efforts, the Ontario Heritage Basis and the Ontario Horticultural Affiliation awarded him longtime volunteer service awards in 2005. The next 12 months, he obtained the Silver Fir Award – the Ontario Horticultural Affiliation’s highest honour – and, in 2013, the title of honorary grasp gardener by the Grasp Gardeners of Ontario.

By means of all of it, Cruise, who had by no means married or had kids, remained humble, says his nephew, Monte Smith, who says his unassuming uncle’s focus “was all the time on the present venture or upcoming backyard tour or a brand new plant or tree that had been added to the backyard or had been ordered. He was a builder, a trainer and a mentor.”

“He collected new mates in all places,” says Joan. “He was additionally a spellbinding storyteller. He beloved so as to add nuggets of native historical past into his tales to provide them relevance, and he stored distinctive vintage gadgets and strange animals to spark extra alternatives for storytelling and educating. He beloved to have an viewers.

“He was a gentleman,” she says, “and a mild man.”

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